Florida redshirt Freshman Joshua Shaw has had nothing but positives things to say about his transition from cornerback to safety. As a freshman, he had to deal with an injury and a position change, this year he is looking to have more of a role in the Gators’ defense.
"Moving from corner to safety I actually enjoy it because safety is different from corner, although both in the secondary," Shaw said. "But safety has more contact and I like that. As a corner you don't get much contact, you are really more involved in the passing game."
The change in position was a right set of circumstances for Shaw who spent most of the 2010 football season on the sideline. He saw an opportunity to start this season with Ahmad Black graduating and Will Hill's decision to leave school early for a shot at professional football.
The Gators are going to use a different orientation regarding the safeties this year. A product of head coach Will Muschamp’s philosophy, there will be a left and right safety instead of a free and strong safety. According to Shaw, this defense should help the guys that succeed in it to get to the next level.
"Oh, I love it," Shaw said. "Actually in last year’s defense, playing safety was a lot easier. For example Will Hill was the free safety and Ahmad Black was the strong safety so Hill was always in the post covering three (middle) and now it’s a lot different. Coach Muschamp always told us that if you can play in the secondary and get the concepts and everything we will do fine in the league."
Muschamp has made an impact on the different players in the secondary. He came from the University of Georgia where he played the safety position. Shaw says that Muschamp has spent a lot of time with the safeties during camp so far.
"He's a safety guy. Everybody learns a lot from him day in and day out. He being a defensive guy he can always help us with the lineman split or what to expect when they are in a certain formation."
Josh Evans and Matt Elam seem to be the favorites to start at safety but with three weeks left before the season starts, Shaw continues to show a drive to break into the starting lineup.
"Every day it gets more and more intense because the competition gets higher and higher because guys are out here fighting for their spots,” he said.
With camp being a time to prove one’s self, Shaw is holding onto the concept that although the guys are his friends off the field, on the field they are his competitors fighting for starting positions.
"That is definitely my attitude on the field,” he said. “I feel that it has to be everyone’s attitude."
Shaw has grown quickly in his new position and is determined to prove himself when his name is called. Shaw’s physical and mental makeup along with a ready mindset has this talented back up safety prepared to make big contributions for the Gator Secondary.